Original Research

Vocabulary used by ethno-linguistically diverse South African toddlers: A parent report using the Language Development Survey

Aurellia Shamaleni Gonasillan, Juan Bornman, Michal Harty
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 60, No 1 | a4 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v60i1.4 | © 2013 Aurellia Shamaleni Gonasillan, Juan Bornman, Michal Harty | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2013 | Published: 27 November 2013

About the author(s)

Aurellia Shamaleni Gonasillan, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Juan Bornman, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Michal Harty, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Objective: The primary aim of this study was to ascertain the relevance of the vocabulary of the Language Development Survey (LDS) for typically developing South African toddlers who attend ethno-linguistically diverse early childhood development centres.

Rationale: The need for exploration of the expressive vocabulary of this population stems from the diverse linguistic contexts to which toddlers are exposed on a day-to-day basis in South Africa. Many parents prefer English as the language of learning and teaching for their child. As a result, toddlers interact with ethno-linguistically diverse peers from a young age, usually within their early childhood development centres.

Method: An adapted version of the LDS was presented to 40 middle-class parents in Mpumalanga. Vocabulary commonly used by toddlers was determined and a comparison of parent responses made between the present study and the original American-based survey.

Results: Results revealed that nouns were used most often by toddlers, in keeping with research on vocabulary acquisition. Significant correlations between the two groups were evident in 12 of the 14 categories. Parents reported that nouns, verbs, adjectives and words from other word classes were used similarly by toddlers, despite differences in their linguistic exposure.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the LDS is a valuable clinical screening tool for speech-language therapists who deliver services to toddlers within the South African context.


Keywords

ethno-linguistically diverse; monolingual; parent report; toddlers’ language development; vocabulary

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